Thursday 11 May 2017
AUST’s Vice-President Riad Sakr Panelist at the 4th Lebanese Diaspora Energy ( LDE ) Conference

The 4th Lebanese Diaspora Energy (LDE) Conference is an initiative launched by H.E. Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants. The Lebanese Diaspora Energy works to accomplish many goals and objectives: to celebrate the Diaspora's success stories throughout their journey in different countries; to promote the Lebanese heritage by spreading Lebanese culture, traditions and vision throughout the world; to establish connections between the diaspora and the residents, thus providing a chance to share experiences, enhance relations, and promote business and social connections; and, to explore new possibilities and opportunities, where Lebanese residents and expatriates can restore the image of Lebanon and the world's trust in the economy of the country. LDE's 4th edition was attended by more than 2,750 people, and inaugurated by the President of the Lebanese Republic.


AUST was among the five private Lebanese universities together with the only public university, the Lebanese University, invited to conduct a panel and showcase student successes. AUST, AUB, LAU, USJ, and USEK were selected because they have innovation and entrepreneurship centres. The conference featured many panels.


The panel moderator and economist and TV presenter, Mr. Maurice Matta, started the discussion by stating that Lebanon has always been renowned for being a “talent hub” evidenced in part, by the projects university students pursuing various degrees accomplish. Concurrently, Lebanon suffers from a “talent drain” as a significant number of these very same students, upon graduation, seek employment opportunities abroad”. The panel showcased the exceptional projects submitted by university students, highlighted the successes achieved and the challenges faced, and discussed various ways to foster students’ projects internationally with the backing of prominent higher education figures from the Lebanese Diaspora and the institutions they represent.


The participating panellists included AUST’s Vice-president Riad Sakr; LAU President, Dr. Joseph Jabra; Dean of The Faculty of Sciences at the Lebanese University, Dr. Bassam Badran; Director of the Office of Research and Assessment at AUB, Dr. Karma El Hassan; Head of the Innovation Centre at USEK representing President George Hobeika; Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department at USJ, Professor Dani Mezher; and, Associate Dean for Research at Texas A & M, Qatar Dr. Hassan Bazzi.


VP Sakr started his presentation on “Lebanese Brain Power: Successful Investment in the Youth” by outlining the current situation of a high number of university graduates in comparison to a low number of jobs; where a one way communication channel exists between schools, universities and the labour market. Dr. Sakr then proceeded to explain AUST’s approach to transfer the “brain drain” to “brain gain” through providing schools with entrepreneurship competitions, innovation competitions, ICDL training, Math & Science Olympiads, and creative competitions. VP Sakr proceeded to explain that AUST added 3 Cs to the regular 4 Cs of higher education, stating that “the addition of Character building, Competencies and Certifications, and Creativity through innovation and entrepreneurship is basic to the addition of Communication skills, Computer skills and Critical thinking.” He went on to say that with respect to the workforce, AUST’s approach is to introduce industry advisory boards to all majors, incubators and start-ups, and collaborative capstone projects. This approach has helped remove the walls between schools, universities, and the labour market and has established a two-way communication channel. VP Sakr then highlighted the entrepreneurship educational initiative of AUST and invited the audience to visit the exhibition area where AUST was showcasing two success stories: EyeOT and Cloud Beat. VP Sakr ended his presentation by recommending:


  • University partnerships to further the dimensions of research & communication
  • Funding innovation & entrepreneurship centres in Lebanon
  • Inter Universities Diaspora fund to support academic activities and educational development 
  • Lebanese government to facilitate investments in Lebanon (e.g. tax exemption on such funds)

 

The event included a video of successful Lebanese projects, of which two were done by AUST students. “Cloudbeat” is a new company that is being proposed in the healthcare sector. Its mission is to be the first trusted partner in the collection, classification, storage, and safe-keeping of electronic personal health records with the partnership of public and private organizations. The information will be securely stored on a website and a mobile application that can be ubiquitously accessed by all stakeholders. This entrepreneur idea was developed as a result of joint effort by students from various faculties at AUST, mainly the faculties of Health Science and Business and Economics. “EyeOT” was the second project showcased. The inception of Internet of Things (IoT) technology has rapidly influenced the medical system, and posed drastic changes to its prevailing services and business opportunities. AUST’s Engineering and Computer Science Departments joined efforts to focus on the creation of a new IoT eHealth service which provides patients of cardiac, dementia, and cognitive decline diseases with autonomous and robust solutions to better monitor their health status, physical activities and hence avoid destructive consequences.
AUST’s participation in this conference is once again a confirmation of its mission that seeks to:


  • Develop the student’s and communication skills across the curriculum and in the para-academic activities.  
  • Strive to become a model of the use of high technology in education in the region. 
  • Avail the students of social, cultural and educational programs and activities that will support and complement the traditional classroom teaching and the learning processes.
  • Be a model of the pursuit of excellence in higher education in the region that it serves.
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